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Great Southern Line | A Soldier's Story: William James
Dr Mary Hutchison
By admin Posted in The Great Southern Line on February 19, 2018 One Comment
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William James

Fitter, Steam Shed Inspector, Divisional Loco Superintendent

Goulburn (Junee, head office, Eveleigh)

 War Service record: NAA B2455, JAMES William (service No. Major)

 NSWGR Employment Card: NSW Public Records (Staff no 1959)

William James Biography

Started work for NSWGR on the Southern Line as a boy fitter in the Permanent Way Department in 1889. By 1899 he was a fitter having completed his apprenticeship and worked in the positions of fitter’s improver and junior turner. He was appointed to the Loco department in Goulburn and then other stations on the line. By 1914 he had been promoted to Steam Shed Inspector and had worked for the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) in the head office in Sydney. He was at Eveleigh workshop when he volunteered for the NSW railway unit in 1916 and was appointed its Commander. When he returned to Australia in 1919 he was appointed Steam Shed Inspector at Goulburn. In 1934 he was promoted to Divisional Locomotive Superintendent. He retired in 1940.

Born Sydney 1875. Family moved to Goulburn during 1880s. He married Ethel Gordon in 1901 two years after completing his apprenticeship. They had four children, one died in infancy. By the time he enlisted the marriage had broken up and divorce proceedings were in train. He and the children were living with his sister Tamar in Sydney.  His eldest daughter (Rita Ethel) is listed at Tamar’s address as his next of kin. With enlistment there was pressure to finalise the divorce which raised issues of custody and from this time William had little contact with his children.  Before the War, William had been a member of the Australian Light Horse (like army reserve). He was promoted to Major during his war service and Mentioned in Despatches by Douglas Haig. Was highly regarded as an officer.

He remarried in 1924 while working in Goulburn (Millie Stewart). A daughter, Norma, was born in 1927. (note that Rita also had a daughter called Norma – surname James as she was not married). Tamar James was the president of the railway unit comforts fund in Sydney.  It is not clear whether she was also the sister ‘Nurse’ James mentioned in GEPP.

William was 65 when he retired in 1940 and 91 when he died in 1966. His sister Tamar died the same year. (personal information from Trevor Edmonds). Much personal info researched by Trevor Edmonds.  Only descendants traceable are in New Zealand and have no interest in the story. (second marriage).

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  1. My name is Tony Cottier , my mother who is still alive aged 97 . mom was brought up by uncle Billy and aunty Millie in Goulburn as Norma’s sister . They are in fact cousins .